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Hardware J&W MINIX 780G mini-ITX HTPC mobo

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Tim S, 17 Sep 2008.

  1. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Um, hmm. If you look at the overview picture it certainly looks like x8: http://www.jwele.com/motherboard_detail.php?419

    http://www.ferra.ru/images/141/141084.gif

    because it's half the x16 slot.

    The J&W Manual does no specify and also the J&W website says 95W max but a J&W rep specifically told me 65W and with only 3 phase power for the CPU I personally wouldn't go over that.

    EDIT: The specification page on their website says 95W in well ventilated cases but they also said 4 phase could handle 125W CPUs then a lot of board makers decided against it earlier this year.

    It also says x4, but it's definitely electrically wider. I will have to look into it more, I only briefly checked the slot worked rather than seeing what Catalyst Control Centre said.
     
  2. King of Heroes

    King of Heroes New Member

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    Y'know, for mini-ITX cases with built-in power supplies, you could stick a Radeon 4670 in the PCI-E slot. It needs no external power and is equivalent in spec to a 3870. It tops out at 1680 x 1050 in graphics intensive games, but thats perfect for people who still use 22-inch or below monitors. For mini-ITX or micro-ATX cases that can accept full PSUs, hell there are plenty of single slot options to choose from out there (don't know if its a good idea to put dual-slotters in cases that small).

    The board can take up to 95W, so you could stick any of the Phenom X3s, an X4 9550, or an X4 9650 in it. If you don't trust the onboard sound, digital-out to an external DAC and amplifier takes care of that and it gives the benefit of playing with bookshelf speakers or larger instead of the usual dinky PC speakers. For general users and more casual gamers who don't care about overclocking, I think this board has plenty of potential outside of just HTPCs.
     
  3. Skill3d

    Skill3d New Member

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    hmmm this looks rather nice, i still have an unused 3700+ laying around here... hope this one will come out soon here...
     
  4. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    I really would not advise it given that many Taiwanese manufacturers don't warranty support for high powered Phenoms on boards with few power phases - it will handle it, but in the long term it'll burn itself out quicker.

    or, I would buy something like a 65W 5000+ 65nm Black Edition and overclock it - you'll get more out of gaming with a higher clocked dual core than a Phenom, plus, with only 800MHz SO-DIMMs out there the K8 architecture has a more efficient memory subsystem should benefit more. If you really want >2 cores get a tri-core or 9350e quad core.
     
  5. fathazza

    fathazza Freed on Probation

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    looks like a great board....

    However in most instances getting a mini-itx htpc up and going will be way more expensive given the cost of decent itx cases/psus and a laptop sized bluray drive with the only benefit being size that doesnt really matter once it is in your av rack....

    Still, it would make a great modding mobo :)
     
  6. toru173

    toru173 New Member

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    Thanks, I'd appreciate that. The fact that the PCIe slot was only x4 according to the website is the only thing putting me off. If the bandwidth goes up to x8 it should be enough for my limited gaming aptitude.
     
  7. Spaceraver

    Spaceraver Ultralurker

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    I wold not even waste an extra GFX on this thing.. If the IGP can handle it why bother.. I smell meself a torrentbox straight to tv and a Z-5500 to go with it.
     
  8. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    That's certainly fair enough. I've got another review or two to finish first, so I'll try to fish it out asap
     
  9. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Just to confirm - I've been talking with J&W today and even though it's got the pins for an x8 slot it's still only electrically an x4 at PCI-Express 2.0. This is because of the space limitation and trace count available in a 6-layer PCB. :(

    We also were informed that currently shipping motherboards come with an optional fan for the northbridge - so you shouldn't get over heating issues at all :)
     
  10. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    Bindi, if this board was teamed up with an ATI 3650 would the PCI-E bandwidth cause issues with 1080i playback from HD-DVD and Blue-ray discs. My ideas were to let the 3650 do the decoding of H.264 and hook everything up via a HDMI cable, so audio via the 3650 aswell.

    Can you see any problems with that..
     
  11. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Mate, grab a 3*cough*5*cough*50 when they're available in a few weeks - it has UVD2 but should only be £25. The x4 interface should not affect HD playback.
     
  12. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    UVD2? never heard of that! nor did i know of a 3550 being released...
     
  13. Langer

    Langer Jesse Lang

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    UVD2 must be the new version of the below:
     
  14. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    I haven't yet tested UVD2 but it also supports LPCM 7.1 pass through too, whereas UVD only supports S/PDIF 5.1 - it basically handles more bandwidth.
     
  15. Burnout21

    Burnout21 Is the daddy!

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    Any news of its release in the UK?
     
  16. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Nothing sorry :( I'll let you know as soon as I hear something
     
  17. [cibyr]

    [cibyr] Sometimes posts here

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    I wonder if the people selling this board know that Minix is a (terrible) message-passing microkernel operating system...
     
  18. best49erfan

    best49erfan New Member

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    So, what CPU would be good to use with it and where can i find a low profile cpu cooler for it?
     
  19. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    Well, anything 65W or lower, preferably 45W if you want to go low profile. Im not sure where you'd find a low profile cooler though.
     
  20. cozmicharlie

    cozmicharlie New Member

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    I purchased this mobo about a month ago and set it up as an HTPC - I thought it would be helpful if I wrote about my experience for those that might be considering this board. There is no testing, just my observations after setting it up and using it. My goal in building this was to have an HTPC I could play music, DVD's (including Blu Ray), Netflix and sites such as Hulu.

    I used the set up as described here (http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/buyers-guide/2009/02/04/q1-2009-htpc-buyers-guide/1). The only difference is I used the Sony Optaric Blu ray drive. I also added a Radeon 4550 video card (more on this later) at one point but decided against using it so I took it out. I connected a Hitatchi HDTV and Yamaha amplifier via the HDMI connector and the sound via the optical connector (though you do not need this for Windows7).

    The Build:
    The build went fairly smooth - experiended builders should have no problem following the manual. Those that are new to building (I am) may have a harder time since the manual really doesn't give any instructions only the connector info and the case has no instructions. However, a search of the internet will find some instructions and pictures that will help. I am not very experienced at building (this is only my second build) and I figured it out.

    The recommended case (Jou Jye NU-528i-B Mini-ITX Case 220W) is a very nice looking case and very small. When building an HTPC I want a small quiet case and this one works great. However, it is cramped and if you need to add anything (video card or tv card) forget this case, it won't fit and the riser card won't help so don't waste your money. Also, you may have problems if you have big hands since it is hard to get at some of the connections. One note - the case has this blue led light for the power switch and it is bright when watching a movie in a dark room - I disconnected it after my wife complained. Other than that, the build went fine.

    Usage: I tried a few different operating systems and settled on a dual boot of Windows7-rc2 32 bit and Ubuntu 9.04 64 bit. I prefer Linux but without Blu ray and Netflix I could not go with just Linux. The reason for going with W7-32 bit was to play Blu Ray. I could not get Blu Ray movies to play in the W7-64 bit system. On W7-32 bit, Windvd9-plus worked right out of the box. The dual boot works fine and both W7 and Ubuntu work great on the system. I have to admit, W7 is a nice OS.- everything just works without having to set up drivers etc. Make sure though you do the upgrades, both recommended and optional (minus the language packs). But, it is Windows and of course that means you need anti virus, spyware etc and as soon as you load those the system slows down (now I remember why I prefer Linux). Also, of course you have to buy programs, though I only purchased Windvd9 - it is cheaper than Cyberlink powerdvd and the test version of powerdvd kept freezing my system. Thanks to Gizmo Tech Alert (http://www.techsupportalert.com/), I was able to find free open source utility programs for W7 so I did not have to purchase any other programs.

    Note- flash the bios immediately using the newer drive on the J&W site- it fixes lots of problems. The bios drivers are easy to find on the J&W web site.

    Installing Ubuntu is a little tricky because of the ATI drivers but once installed properly they work great (pm me if you need tips on how to do this) and I think on my system the ATI drivers do a slightly better job on Linux than Windows. They are not hard to install - it just takes a few little tricks (reminds me what I do not like about Linux). For transcoding music and videos you just can't beat Linux IMHO. I installed XBMC so I have a nice interface for media (would have installed Boxee but they do not have a 64 -bit version). I also tried the new Fedora 11 and I liked how it performed - support for ATI cards is much better right out of the box. KDE is just beautiful on this system.

    Performance:
    It is amazing such a small unit can do so much. The video and audio quality is excellent. I have no problems playing regular DVD, HD or Blu Ray and the graphics are excellent. I watched Master and Commander on Blu Ray last night and it was stunning. The only problem I ran into is playing Hulu in full screeen hi-res mode. W7 could not do this without skips and glitches, whereas I could play them in hi-res full screen in ubuntu. W7 was able to play low-res on full screen fine though and the quality is not much different. Other than that, the system performs well. It puts out minimal heat and the fans are fairly low noise (I don't notice them when playing a movie).

    one note - I did at one point try out adding a Radeon 4550 video card because I read on the J&W forum that it did improve video performance. That was correct but not that much and it just won't work in this case so I took it out. If you do want to use a video card or other add-on you will need a larger case. Also, make sure you go in the bios and enable the "monitor for added hardware" (not sure what it is officially called but it is obvious) so it detects the new card. I did not overclock or mess with the bios other than flashing to the newest version.

    As far as J&W goes, I had no contact with them. They do have a forum and appear to answer questions. The MOBO is not sold in the USA, at least I could not find a seller (they do list a company on the web site but I did not find the board on there web site). I had to purchase mine via ebay from someone in Asia. Overall though I am very pleased with the MOBO and I would recommend it. I still think they need a little more power for video but that is a minor complaint and can be remedied by adding a video card (nice to have the pci slot). The low power usage, quiet performance and small factor make this a nice HTPC.

    I hope this helps. If anyone has any questions I will try and answer - just post or pm me.
     
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